College Football: Auburn Quarterbacks a Story of Perseverance

Justin HokansonSenior Writer IAugust 31, 2009

When Auburn kicks off Saturday against Louisiana Tech, they will have a pair of quarterbacks that have certainly been through their share of trials and tribulations.

When Chris Todd was named Auburn's starting quarterback last week, it started another chapter in Todd's long journey to become a starting quarterback in big time college football.

Todd signed with Texas Tech coming out of high school in Elizabethtown, KY. He was a prolific passer in high school throwing for over 10,000 yards and 120 touchdowns running the spread, and was taught the offense in high school by Tony Franklin, who would later become his offensive coordinator at Auburn.

Todd redshirted his first year in Lubbock, and then lost the battle for the starting job to Graham Harrell in 2006. Todd played five games in Lubbock and then transferred to Hutchinson Community College.

In 2008, Auburn hired Tony Franklin as their new offensive coordinator and with him, he brought his pupil from high school and a quarterback he was recruiting to Troy, Chris Todd.

Things were never quite right in Todd's first year on the Plains though.

We all know the story behind why the offense failed, but what most didn't know is the battle Todd was having with his previously injured shoulder. He was thought to be healthy coming to Auburn, but that turned out not to be the case. Todd was benched half way through the season, and after the 2008 season was over, required shoulder surgery and didn't even throw a pass until the summer workouts this year.

Not many quarterbacks have had to overcome like Todd has in the last three years. Going through what he did last year though, would be enough for any player to have to deal with.

Todd was the newcomer brought to Auburn by the new coordinator, and never did really get the player's support last season. He was looked upon as Franklin's "guy", and there seemed to be some resentment because of that. He struggled all season to gain respect and never really got it in 2008. 

"Back then, we still had people that were 'I'm for Kodi Burns, I'm for Chris Todd, I'm for Kodi Burns.' That kind of split the team up," senior corner Walter McFadden said. "It got to the position with who was starting the game we were like 'I don't know, man. We can't win it with him."

Now that Tony Franklin has gone, and Todd has now won the job at Auburn for the second year in a row. there seems to be more acceptance of Todd as the starting quarterback and 2009 looks to be a redemption type year for senior Chris Todd.

"Now that we already have a quarterback, we already know who our quarterback is. The only thing we can do is say, 'Chris Todd is our quarterback,' and that's who we're going to be behind," McFadden said.

Todd isn't the only Auburn quarterback to go through tough times though. Enter junior Neil Caudle.

Caudle was named Auburn's backup quarterback on Friday, the highest Caudle has been on the depth chart entering a football season on the Plains in his career.

Caudle was an Elite 11 national quarterback coming out of high school in Birmingham, Alabama. In a quarterback class with Tim Tebow, Matt Stafford, and Jevan Snead, Caudle was thought to be the next great Auburn quarterback.

Injuries though have slowed Caudle's road to becoming a starter.

In high school, Caudle suffered serious knee injuries in both his junior and senior years in high school cutting short both seasons.

Caudle persevered though and fought back to battle for Auburn's backup starting quarterback job in 2007, his redshirt freshman season. Caudle was again injured though suffering a tough shoulder injury in a fall scrimmage that set him back and killed any chance of becoming the back up in 2007.

Last season, Caudle wasn't even really given a fair shot. Tony Franklin came into Auburn with his guy in Chris Todd, and dual threat Kodi Burns had the players and the coaches on his side for the starting job. Caudle got minimal reps and was never a factor for the starting job.

This year, Caudle had to fight off highly recruited true freshman Tyrik Rollison to win the No. 2 job, and head coach Gene Chizik admires Caudle's road to becoming a good quarterback.

"Neil to me is the ultimate tough guy,' Chizik said. "He has been through a lot of adversity. He's such a tough guy. He just keeps coming back. That's one of the cool things to watch a guy like that do in a career that's been injury-plagued. A lot of adversity to overcome.

"I'm really proud of the way he's come on. It means a lot for a great kid that's an Auburn man to be able to step in and we feel good about him if he has to go in the football game."

2009 looks to be a different story for both quarterbacks.

Todd seems to have regained the trust of his teammates and seems to be over his shoulder injury that severely limited his ability in 2008.

Caudle has battled knee injuries, shoulder injuries, and being pushed to the back of the line, to become Auburn's backup this season over highly touted freshman Tyrik Rollison.

These two quarterbacks may mirror the path of this 2009 Auburn football team. Trying to battle back to what it once was and overcoming the struggles of last season. Either way, both have shown and important trait of what it takes to be a great quarterback, perseverance.


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